He grew up in Malibu. He went to Juan Cabrillo and was a member of one of the first graduating classes at Malibu High School. He was captain of the water polo team. Today, 35-year-old Henry Stern is state senator for the California Senate District 27.
Stern has a history degree from Harvard University and a law degree from UC Berkeley. With humility in his voice and passion for his work, Stern’s legislation focuses on youth empowerment. Most recently, his bill to increase voter registration opportunities for foster youth was signed to become state law.
The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the man who may one day be the first Malibuite to become president of the United States (even though he says he isn’t planning on it).
How and when did you decide to go into politics?
I was always involved in politics in small ways. In fifth grade I was in a mini society. In eighth grade I was really upset about an anti-Semitism incident and I gathered different groups to get together and deal with the hate. Politics is about helping people, to me. I don’t like all the games. This is the first office I’ve ever held so it’s all very new to me. Malibu High was my incubator to all this. I had amazing teachers.
Where do you see America in four years?
I feel like this is all a bad dream and we will all wake up and see that we don’t hate each other. Malibu thinks it’s different from the Valley, California thinks it’s different from Texas. People tend to focus on what’s different instead of what’s the same. But I think we’ll be a more unified country in four years. This all has to stop at some point.
Who or what encouraged you to support foster youth?
Young people in general don’t have good lobbyists. The youth needs a voice, and as one of the youngest members of the Senate, I would like to focus on that. The focus of my legislation is youth empowerment, including human trafficking and much more. Foster youth is a group that feels left out and we have to help them.
What is the biggest change you’d like to see in California over the next few years?
Political change that can show the rest of the country how we govern. We can work with Republicans and make progress—pay for education, make the roads safe. It’s about the simple stuff without getting sucked into television news. California can set a different example.
What would you like to say to those who deny climate change?
Look outside. Go to the beach and see the sea levels rising. Notice the drought. When weather becomes a pattern, there’s serious cost. Take a look outside and at your pocketbooks because you’ll have to pay for it if we don’t do something about it.
Would you like to run for president one day?
I don’t know about that job. California is a huge project itself. Once—and if—D.C. gets sensible, I might consider it. But I’m happy here at the state level. California is a very special project.
What would you like to tell our current president today?
Take a deep breath. You’re a human being, not a Twitter person. I don’t want to see him fail; too many people will get hurt. Take it nice and easy. We don’t need world wars. Let’s keep it steady.
What are you most proud of in your life?
My family. I’m blessed in that way. They are incredibly generous people. They taught me that learning is what makes you rich, not big houses and cars. My mom and dad are rock stars.
Your father is an actor; did you ever consider pursuing a career in entertainment?
I’m not a good actor. I love theater and storytelling. I tried acting when I was 11 or 12 for a movie my dad was directing. My own dad cut me from auditions.
What are some of your hobbies?
Surfing. Cooking. Reading.
What’s an interesting or unique fact about you that people don’t know?
I was the worst busboy to ever work in Nobu. I just wanted to eat the sushi.
What is your favorite thing about Malibu? If you could change one thing about Malibu what would it be and why?
The small town attitude. We’re a little village. I love that. I don’t want to change Malibu. I don’t want it to change. I want it to stay the way it’s been.
How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks?
She’s an amazing artist and such a generous person. It was fascinating to see her work. I don’t know why she would want a portrait of me, but I appreciate her optimism about me.